Thursday, July 24, 2014

Happy 313th Birthday to the 313

Detroit turns 313 years old today.  The Detroit Free Press relates the details in A short history on the founding of Detroit.
Why are we celebrating Detroit’s 313th birthday on Thursday?

Well, because it was 313 years ago that French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and his band of merry hommes arrived on the banks of the Detroit River and established the settlement that would one day become the Motor City.
[O]n July 23, the crew rows across Lake St. Clair and passes by Belle Isle. As the “Detroit Almanac” tells it, “Stopping on the island might be foreboding: The sight of swarms of mosquitoes and the occasional threatening rattle of massasauga rattlesnakes may convince them to keep rowing.” They make their way south, past where Detroit is today, and camp on what is now Grosse Ile. Cadillac takes things in and re-evaluates his options a bit.

The next day, he has his crew backtrack north a bit to a rather strategic spot with great views up and down the river. Cadillac orders his men to bust out their axes and get to choppin’. This is where he will build the fort that would one day give rise to one of the greatest cities in the world. It is July 24, 1701. Detroit is born.
Happy birthday, Detroit!  I'm celebrating by following the advice of another Free Press article.
Show your Detroit pride on the 313’s 313th birthday by downloading your very own Detroit flag.
I particularly like the motto: Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus" -- "We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes."  It's just as appropriate today as it was in 1805, when the city burned down, only to be rebuilt.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reblogging: Guide to entries that contain answers to 'The End of Suburbia'

Crazy Eddie's Motie News: Guide to entries that contain answers to 'The End ...
: I showed my students "The End of Suburbia" last week and one of them not only found the worksheet , but had the courage to come ...

I'm showing "The End of Suburbia" again this week, so I'm reblogging the above entry so my students can find it more easily.  Just follow the link.  For more commentary on it, also read Student worksheets for the second and third year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.

Detroit Water Project helps pay delinquent water bills

More good news on top of the city suspending water shutoffs--there is now a site that connects people who need help paying their water bills with people willing to donate money.  WXYZ has the story in Website allows donors to pay delinquent bills.

To read more, Deadline Detroit has the story at Person to Person: Here's How to Help Detroiters With Unpaid Water Bills.  The site itself is here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bankruptcy update--city suspends water shutoffs and pensioners approve plan of adjustment

All of us involved in the Water protests in Detroit can claim a victory, even though the official position is that the result we wanted was going to happen anyway.  WXYZ reports Detroit Water and Sewerage Department suspends water shutoffs for 15 days.

Next, the Free Press reports Detroit pensioners back grand bargain in bankruptcy vote, creditors object.
Detroit retirees voted to accept pension cuts and allow the Detroit Institute of Arts to spin off as an independent institution, reflecting a critical endorsement of the city’s restructuring blueprint to resolve the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

With all votes counted, the two separate classes of pensioners — civilians and police and fire — voted “yes” to back the grand bargain, giving the city significant momentum in its fight against holdout financial creditors.
Both of those are good news.  I'd be tempted to post Professor Farnsworth except for the following.
Still, several obstacles linger for the bankruptcy. For one thing, 119 classes of Detroit Water and Sewer Department secured bondholders voted “no,” compared to 32 that voted “yes,” presenting a legal hurdle for the city. They voted “no,” even though they will be paid 100% of their principal, because they are mad at the city’s plan to redeem their bonds early.

The city is expected to continue negotiations with the water and sewer investors in a bid to reach a settlement that could resolve their differences.
It comes back to the water and sewer department and its debt, which is why the shutoffs were happening in the first place.

That's not all.
Four groups of unsecured creditors voted “no” — including the stiffest of opponents, a group of bond insurers and hedge funds that control $1.4 billion in pension debt issued by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s administration in 2005. Smaller unsecured creditors, including people who sued the city and are owed settlements, also voted “no.”

The Chapter 9 bankruptcy will now proceed to its final stage: a massive confirmation trial starting Aug. 14 to decide whether the plan is fair, legal and feasible.
Stay tuned.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Elizabeth Warren at Netroots Nation

Elizabeth Warren Jedi

At the end of Water protests in Detroit, I wrote "In other news, Elizabeth Warren spoke.  That will be the topic of another update."  I'll begin with this excerpt from the Detroit Free Press.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told a crowd at Cobo Center today that “corporations are not people.”

In a speech that touched on topics ranging from immigration to culpability in the financial crisis, the Democratic senator — who now is being encouraged by some to run for president — offered a list of progressive beliefs, blasting big banks, lobbying and corporate misdeeds along the way.

“Those with power fight to make sure every rule tilts in their favor. That’s what we’re up against,” she told the crowd, which responded with rounds of applause. At times, the crowd broke into chants of “Run, Liz, Run,” a reference to the next presidential race. Warren, however, has said she has no plans to run for president in 2016.
Amanda Turkel of The Huffington Post captured an even more inspiring quote.
Warren focused her message on her familiar theme of economic populism, getting loud applause when she said, "The game is rigged. And the rich and the powerful have lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everybody else, not so much. So the way I see this is we can whine about it, we can whimper about it or we can fight back. I'm fighting back!"
As for the attempt by the Warren supporters to draft her, Turkel had this to say.
Warren's supporters used her speech to progressive activists Friday as their launching pad, handing out hats, signs and stickers to attendees. When Warren appeared on stage, large banners urging her to run were unfurled, and members of the crowd chanted for her to run a few times during her speech.

Warren, however, does not support this effort, as her spokeswoman told The Huffington Post this week. And she didn't acknowledge the calls to run for president Friday either, simply urging people to sit down whenever they jumped up and started applauding.
I really enjoyed the speech and found it a great way to start my day of meeting other activists, participating caucuses, and attending panel discussions.  However, I did not join in the calls for Elizabeth Warren to run.  I can understand why the conference attendees want Warren to contest the Democratic nomination, but she's not going to run so long as Hillary Clinton appears likely to.  At this stage in the game, the nomination is Clinton's to lose and the best that Warren could hope for is to audition to be Vice President.  That might not be a bad idea, but I suspect Warren thinks she can serve her state and her country more effectively in other ways.  If so, I agree.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Climate change films at Netroots Nation

For this Sunday's entertainment entry, I present the trailers to three environmental films that were featured at Netroots Nation on Thursday at a session titled "Changing the climate on climate change; a showcase of films for environmental action."  The first of the three was THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE: Climate Change, Capitalism & Community—Trailer.

Climate change is taking place. Will we have the wisdom to survive? The film features thought leaders and activists in the realms of science, economics and spirituality. The focus: how we can live creatively and even joyfully in the face of this catastrophe.

Featured in the film: Bill McKibben, Joanna Macy, Gus Speth, Roger Payne, & more!

"This film is deeply moving and profoundly engaging. Indeed, it has the potential to transform lives because it provides visions of how we should live in the midst of massive environmental challenges. I cannot recommend it more highly!"—Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion & Ecology at Yale.
Follow over the jump for the trailers for two other films screened at the session.

First moon landing 45 years later

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and the usual suspects are all celebrating the occasion, including me.  First, ABC News is Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of First Moon Landing.

Remembering that moment 45 years ago when Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.
I was one of those watching the broadcast.  I sat in front of the TV waving a miniature U.S. flag the entire time.  The memory still makes me smile.

Follow over the jump for more from NASA,, and Discovery News (I told you, all the usual suspects).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Water protests in Detroit

I mentioned in Detroit's bankruptcy, one year later that "Detroit's water crisis will be a topic at Netroots Nation."  It was a bigger deal than I expected, as WXYZ reports in Hundreds gather downtown to protest Detroit's water shutoffs.

I joined that peaceful demonstration as one of the many from Netroots Nation.  That went pretty smoothly, as the protesters had the cooperation of police.  Another protest elsewhere in the city against water shutoffs didn't fare as well, as WXYZ reports in Protesting water shutoffs: Demonstrators face Detroit Police.

In other news, Elizabeth Warren spoke.  That will be the topic of another update.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Magnetic field reversal and 'Innovation the NASA Way'

Looking through my archives, I found that I didn't post all the space news from the past two weeks in Orbiting Carbon Observatory launches and space news video extravaganza and Supermoon and other space and astronomy news.  I missed one story each week that should have appeared in those two compendiums.  Without any further ado, here they are.

First, Kelly Dickerson of LiveScience reported Earth's Magnetic Field Is Weakening 10 Times Faster Now.
Earth's magnetic field, which protects the planet from huge blasts of deadly solar radiation, has been weakening over the past six months, according to data collected by a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite array called Swarm.

The biggest weak spots in the magnetic field — which extends 370,000 miles (600,000 kilometers) above the planet's surface — have sprung up over the Western Hemisphere, while the field has strengthened over areas like the southern Indian Ocean, according to the magnetometers onboard the Swarm satellites — three separate satellites floating in tandem.

The scientists who conducted the study are still unsure why the magnetic field is weakening, but one likely reason is that Earth's magnetic poles are getting ready to flip, said Rune Floberghagen, the ESA's Swarm mission manager. In fact, the data suggest magnetic north is moving toward Siberia.
This ties back into Discovery News on the sun flipping, in which I pointed out that "increased sunspot activity...would make for more solar storms.  That wouldn't be good for Earth, especially if they happen when the Earth's field is also reversing.  Such a combination might fry our electric grid."  This news indicates a reversal of Earth's magnetic field is becoming more likely.

Next, via LiveScience describes 'Innovation the NASA Way' (US 2014): Book Excerpt.
NASA's approach to leadership has inspired the public for decades, achieving results and overcoming obstacles that so often seemed impossible. Rod Pyle has provided leadership training to top executives at the agency and learned first-hand the situations that have guided the space agency at its most critical moments. With his latest book, he shares what he has learned and offers insight into both the inner workings of NASA and leadership lessons that span disciplines.

Below is an excerpt from his book, the first chapter of  "Innovation the NASA Way: Harnessing the Power of Your Organization for Breakthrough Success" — problem-solving anecdotes and lessons from the Mars Curiosity mission.
Read the excerpt; it's cool.

Detroit's bankruptcy, one year later

It's the one-year anniversary of Detroit files for bankruptcy, so here are two videos from WXYZ about the ongoing saga of Detroit's adventures in insolvency.

First, some good news: More donations for DIA.

The DIA is $26 million closer to its goal of raising $100 million for the grand bargain in Detroit's bankruptcy.
So far, I was right to be optimistic in Looks like good news for the DIA.

Next, a follow-up to U.N. declares Detroit's water shutoffs a human rights violation: What to do if your water is shut off.

Detroit's water crisis will be a topic at Netroots Nation tomorrow.  Speaking of which, it's time for me to go downtown and see Elizabeth Warren.